I read 55 books this year. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Historical Fiction: Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
I’ve been wanting to read this Civil War epic since high school, but was determined to find a vintage copy in a used bookstore. Finally, my hunt was rewarded. The Book Cellar in Grand Haven, Michigan had a beautiful copy and I eagerly dove in. Although nearly a thousand pages in length, I devoured this beautiful, grotesque, heart-wrenching novel in a weekend. I cannot recommend it highly enough, as shown my my post “To the Former Owner of Andersonville.”
2. Children’s: The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
I found an adorable copy of this classic on another pilgrimage to The Book Cellar. I am not sure why this is typically relegated to “children’s books” when it all ages will find it poignant, hilarious, and tragic. Again, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
3. Classic: Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace
I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, as you’ll see in my post “Books Recommending Books.” I love how Wallace brought the ancient world to life and grew accustomed to his unique cadence. I was also fascinated by the political dimension, with the primary characters wanting Christ to be a political hero and being first disappointed and then transformed upon encountering Him. Sound familiar?
4. Christian Non-fiction: A Sad Departure by David J. Randall
I love Scotland and I love the Church, so this has been on my TBR list for a while. It cuts to the heart of what went wrong in Scotland and what is going wrong with progressive denominations in general with compassion and precision. It is a difficult and painful read, but should be essential literature for pastors regardless of denomination.
5. Reread: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
When a blizzard struck the week before Christmas, I knew it was time to reread a cozy favorite. I was particularly interested in Marmee this time around. Not only is she an exemplary mother, but a pastor’s wife! I’m sure I will dedicate a post to her in the future, so stay tuned. Also, I know this will be controversial, but Beth is by far the worst character.
6. Audiobook: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (read by Elizabeth Klett)
I’ve read this book several times, but listening gave it new life. Some of the wit and awkwardness of its characters is easier to discern when read aloud. The version I listened to is free on Spotify and can be accessed at the following link: https://open.spotify.com/episode/6DxM6Iy06Bi2o86ZZxXHFl Also, can we talk about how Miss Bingley is really, really bad at flirting?
7. Memoir: Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle
Whenever I am in a reading or writing slump, I reach for one of Madeleine’s memoirs. (Yes, I like to think that she and I are on a first-name basis. That’s how personable her writing feels!) This book about her marriage is captivating and heartbreaking. She writes with dignity and authenticity, and it was a beautiful tribute to her husband.
8. Biography: Martin Luther by Eric Metaxas
I never thought of myself as a “biography reader,” but this book read with all the intrigue of a good novel. Metaxas’ writing can be a bit wordy, but it lends a vivacity to his writing and I ended up loving it. As a music director at a Lutheran church, I felt I should know something about Luther, and this book was just the thing.
9. Theology: The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I would like to reread this soon, savoring each chapter for weeks at a time. Having also read Metaxas’ biography of Bonhoeffer, this book strikes me with greater power. The precision of Bonhoeffer’s writing and the consistency between his work and his life are profound. I will readily share one of my several copies of this book with anyone who wishes to read it.
10. Cozy British: All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
Is this a genre? If not, it absolutely should be. Anyway, I neglected to read this series for years and, finally, had a book craving that only cozy British animal stories could satisfy. This series was essential to surviving my first Midwestern winter. Come February, I was tired of being indoors, so I was thrilled to escape to Yorkshire through these wholesome, beautiful tales.